FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

FINAL DECISION
Docket #FIC 1996-172
January 22, 1997
In the Matter of a Complaint by Danny Cassello, Complainant
against
Dealers and Repairers Division, State of  Connecticut, Department of Motor Vehicles and State of Connecticut, Department of Motor Vehicles, Respondents

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on September 26, 1996, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.

After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found and conclusions of law are reached:

1. The respondents are public agencies within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.

2. By separate letters dated April 10, 1996, to Lee Telke and Howard Keonig at the respondent department, the complainant requested that the respondents provide him with copies of the following:

all records, letters such as ones sent to airborne express and other customers, and all memos regarding the respondents’ investigation into the complainant’s towing business.

3. Having failed to receive a response to his April 10, 1996 requests, by letter dated April 23, 1996, and filed with the Commission on April 29, 1996, the complainant appealed to the Commission alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information ("FOI") Act by denying him a copy of the requested records.

4. It is found that the requested records are public records within the meaning of 1-18a(d) and 1-19(a), G.S.

5. Section 1-19(a), G.S., in relevant part states: [e]xcept as otherwise provided by federal law or state statute, all records maintained or kept on file by any public agency … shall be public records and every person shall have the right to inspect such records promptly … or to receive a copy of such records in accordance with the provisions of section 1-15 [which provides (a) [a]ny person applying in writing shall receive, promptly upon request, a plain or certified copy of any public record].

6. With respect to the allegations contained in paragraph 3, above, the respondent contends that at the time of the complainant’s April 10, 1996 request, there was an open, pending investigation into allegations that the complainant’s towing business was operating without "wrecker" license plates. Accordingly, the respondents argued that the records were exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-19(b)(3), G.S., until the time that the investigation was closed.

7. Section 1-19(b)(3), G.S., in relevant part states:

Nothing in sections 1-15, 1-18a, 1-19 to 1-19b, inclusive, and 1-21 to 1-21k, inclusive, shall be construed to require disclosure of … (3) records of law enforcement agencies not otherwise available to the public which records were compiled in connection with the detection or investigation of crime, if the disclosure of said records would not be in the public interest because it would result in the disclosure of … (C ) information to be used in a prospective law enforcement action if prejudicial to such action …

8. It is found that the respondent failed to prove that the records at issue were compiled in connection with the detection or investigation of crime.

9. It is concluded that the records at issue are not exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-19(b)(3), G.S., under the facts of this case.

10. It is also found that the investigation identified in paragraph 6, above, was closed on July 11, 1996, and the records to which that investigation referred were provided to the complainant on September 19, 1996.

11. It is concluded that the respondents did not provide the records at issue to the complainant promptly within the meaning of 1-19(a) and 1-15(a), G.S.

12. It is therefore concluded that the respondents violated of the promptness provisions of 1-19(a) and 1-15(a), G.S., under the facts of this case.

The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:

Henceforth, the respondent shall strictly comply with the promptness provisions of 1-19(a) and 1-15(a), G.S.

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of January 22, 1997.

__________________________
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission

PURSUANT TO SECTION 4-180(c), G.S., THE FOLLOWING ARE THE NAMES OF EACH PARTY AND THE MOST RECENT MAILING ADDRESS, PROVIDED TO THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION, OF THE PARTIES OR THEIR AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVE.

THE PARTIES TO THIS CONTESTED CASE ARE:

Danny Cassello
c/o Richard M. Quinlan, Esq.
P.O. Box 891
Glastonbury, CT 06033-0891

Dealers and Repairers Division, State of Connecticut, Department of Motor Vehicles and State of Connecticut, Department of Motor Vehicles
ATTN: Lee Telke
60 State Street
Wethersfield, CT 06109

__________________________
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission
FIC1996-172/FD/eal/01291997